Happy Birthday To Me

Last Wednesday was the anniversary of my 23rd year on this planet and I had a really fun day (Caitlin Moran wished me happy birthday!). I decided that I wanted to make it vaguely Mexican themed so I went out for dinner with my familia at Viva Mexico in Edinburgh and then consumed copious amounts of my homemade Margarita cupcakes (see picture above).

My parents were incredibly generous with their gifts (especially considering they are currently keeping me in cupcake ingredients and Diet Coke supplies) they bought me a Kindle AND a sewing machine! The Kindle I was expecting (I’ve been “wish listing” books I want to download on to it for weeks now) but the sewing machine was a total surprise. Mum has promised to give me a tutorial on how to use it and hopefully this means I can be more adventurous with my craft escapades, my BFF Mel gave me this book for Christmas and there’s a pattern for an apron in it that I’m now desperate to try out. I wonder how long it will take me to sew my fingers together. . .

Yesterday the fun continued and I went out for a scrumptious Italian meal with my friends. They were equally generous and I received a lot of chocolate, bath stuff, scarves, etc. My friend Ross has promised me that there’s something AMAZING coming in the post for me (words cannot describe how excited I am) and I will have to blog about it when it finally arrives.

Today I woke up to discover that my friend Sarah went to the effort of posting me a gift all the way from Bristol which really touched me.

I just want to thank my friends and family for making my birthday week so special and for being so supportive during the past year, they’re all lovely and I genuinely don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them!

Jude xxx


Yes To AV or No To AV? That Is The Question*

AV is constantly being discussed on my twitter feed but I have yet to see any proper debate of the positives and negatives of AV or what each outcome could mean for the country. All the discussion I’ve seen has been focused on individual campaigns, as in “The Yes Campaign has done this” or “The No Campaign is supported by this person”, you know what? I DON’T CARE. These aren’t political parties we’re electing. If the no campaign “wins” then they aren’t getting an office in Whitehall, if the yes campaign “wins” they aren’t going to start setting government policy.

I would love for politics to be less dirty and to stop the ad hominem attacks but as far as I’m concerned the important issues about this referendum are:

  • Is AV a good move forward for our electoral system?
  • What is the possibility for further electoral reform in the future?
  • Is this really a referendum on how Nick Clegg is doing as Deputy Prime Minister?

I’m uncertain about the first question, AV is not proportional and I don’t think that it is much different from First Past The Post. In my opinion people living in swing seats will still decide elections (*cough* Daily Mail readers *cough*), this was why I was wary of voting yes to begin with. The reason I made up my mind and am now voting yes is because a certain person on twitter persuaded me a no vote will be seen as a validation of the status quo and would kill any chance of further electoral reform for decades (I am aware that there is a risk that a yes vote for AV could be seen in a similar way but it’s a risk I’m willing take).

A further reason I’m voting yes is Ed Miliband.

Because he is campaigning for a yes vote I am less worried that a yes vote on the referendum will be validating Nick Clegg’s decisions. I’m also glad that Ed is calling the government “Tory-led” rather than “The Coalition”. I have been bitterly disappointed by this coalition. I voted Labour so have no reason to feel betrayed by the Liberal Democrats for joining forces with the Conservatives. The reason I’m disappointed with the Liberal Democrats is for ruining the opportunity to show Britain how a coalition can mean careful, considered governance by steam rolling ahead with radical plans which never received a mandate from the electorate. They are acting like this current government received a landslide win (like in 1945, 1979 or 1997) and I am constantly having to remind myself that not all coalitions have to be like this current one.

So those are the reasons I am voting yes on the referendum. If you’re voting no then that’s fine (I don’t think you’re a dinosaur or a Nazi) all I want is for there to be a calm grown up discussion about electoral reform, preferably over tea and cupcakes.

*Cheesy I know but it made me giggle

The Legendary Ms Britney Spears

Figure 1: An Embroidered Tribute to Ms Britney Spears by Moi

In honour of Britney’s latest single, Hold It Against Me, I have created what I think is the ultimate Britney Playlist:

  1. Chris Cox Megamix
  2. . . . Baby One More Time
  3. Oops! . . . I Did It Again
  4. Cinderella
  5. Overprotected (The Darkchild Remix)
  6. Toxic
  7. Stronger
  8. Break The Ice
  9. Toy Soldier
  10. Womanizer
  11. Kill The Lights
  12. Piece Of Me
  13. Do Somethin’
  14. Circus
  15. My Prerogative
  16. Gimme More
  17. Get Naked (I Got A Plan)
  18. Amnesia

Obviously I have missed out a lot of amazing songs (like most of the incredible Blackout album) but this 18 track playlist is perfect for my commute to and from work.

If you have any suggestions/changes you can leave a comment but I think this playlist is utter pop perfection.

Jude xxx

The Joy of Baking

Here is a box:

Now you may not think this box looks very interesting but you’d be wrong*, because look what’s inside the box:

Lots of lovely baking goodies, that’s what! Food colouring, edible pink glitter, white chocolate stars . . . and also the boring basics like flour.

I love baking, I feel a genuine sense of pride when I open the oven door and my cupcakes have magically risen and I actually don’t mind cleaning up afterwards (as long as I can play some poptastic music really loudly while I’m doing it). One of my (sort of) New Year’s Resolutions was to become a baking extraordinaire (see this post for further details) and I inched a little bit further towards my goal this week by baking not one but TWO batches of cupcakes**.

First up was some gingerbread cake for my mum’s birthday:

Secondly were some Coca-Cola cupcakes I baked on Thursday with my BFF Mel:

Despite a bicarbonate of soda catastrophe (I forgot to put it in at the right point, Lady Gaga was distracting me with her amazingness) the gingerbread tasted amazing with Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream and the Coca-Cola cupcakes just tasted amazing FULL STOP (I accredit any amazing tastiness to Mel and her beating skillz). Tomorrow a new series starts on BBC2 called Baking Made Easy. It looks really good and I’m hoping that by watching it I will improve my baking technique and there won’t be any further bicarbonate of soda catastrophes.

Here’s to another week of baking,

Jude xxx

*Of course you’d be wrong. The box is bright pink with white polka dots and a turquoise lid. Even if there was nothing inside the box it would still be an interesting box.
**The recipes for aforementioned cupcakes are in this book, pages 108 and 137

Why I Love Clement Attlee

Figure 1: My Tatty Devine “Attleeite” necklace

I’ve never been a fan of Tony Blair.

I was nine when he was first elected and I was more concerned about the fate of Humphrey (Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office) than what another five years of Conservative rule would mean for the country. Also, I was a fan of John Major (I still have my signed picture of him); I knew nothing about his policies but he reminded my nine year old self of my Grandpa.

As I matured (and begun to realise that the NHS didn’t just magically appear one day) Tony Blair decided to declare war on “terror”.

Growing up I felt that it didn’t matter who was in charge (though I did vow never to vote Conservative), no politician could really be trusted. This meant that politics never interested me, “plus ça change” and all that. When I was 17 I went to college; I studied Modern Studies and Sociology and I started to develop an interest in politics. I read up on the politicians of the past and stumbled upon the late, great Clement Attlee.

As far as I am concerned Clement Attlee is the greatest politician who has ever lived. He came from a middle class background and yet he truly cared about social justice; he was a hard and efficient worker; he believed in the concept of Collective Cabinet Responsibility; was an honest human being with great morals and his premiership created a consensus, which lasted until Thatcher came along in 1979.

Blairites continually talk about Blair winning three elections in a row but he just followed Thatcher’s consensus; Attlee may have only been Prime Minister for six years but during those six years he achieved pretty much everything that was set out in the Labour Party’s ambitious 1945 manifesto. Attlee may have lost the battle (the 1951 general election) but he won the war, forcing the Conservatives to re-evaluate their position and accept the welfare state Attlee created. Also, Attlee was up against Winston Churchill, a charismatic war hero, not a suicidal Conservative party with William Hague at the helm.

There is constant talk of “new politics”; Tony Blair talked about it in 1997 and Nick Clegg and David Cameron are talking about it now. In my opinion we don’t need new politics; we need the old politics of Clement Attlee’s 1945 government. The idea of George Osborne standing down as Chancellor of the Exchequer because he leaked details of his budget to the press before revealing it to parliament sounds ridiculous (it’s become common practise to read about policy in the press before it is put before parliament) but that’s exactly what Hugh Dalton did in 1947 and that incident is telling of the high standard of behaviour Attlee demanded from his ministers.

It’s because of Clement Attlee I joined the Labour Party. His legacy gives me faith in what can actually be achieved through politics and that there can be such a thing as an honest politician.

This blog post is dedicated to my friends and family who put up with me banging on about Clement Attlee all the time

The Godsend That Is Twitter

Figure 1: My BlackBerry and lifeline to the outside world

Happy New Years everyone!

Last night instead of celebrating with friends I spent the evening curled up with my cat watching DVDs and eating cupcakes.

To some of you this might sound like a really pathetic way to spend New Year’s Eve but for me it was perfect because I suffer from fatigue.

I have been suffering from fatigue ever since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was 14 (I’m almost 23 now). It’s difficult to explain fatigue to someone who has never experienced it (I guess if you have depression you might feel the same way) but living with fatigue is a constant struggle for me. I can’t see my friends and family as often as I’d like, I haven’t graduated from university yet. . . Being fatigued stops me living the life that I want to lead.

One thing that non-fatigued people often don’t understand is what a godsend Twitter is for me.

Last night on Twitter I got into an argument about whether it is acceptable to put legwarmers on a cat, discussed how amazing Lady GaGa and Britney are, laughed (with/at) drunken tweeters, shared pictures of cats with other Twitter users and received a lot of lovely New Year’s greetings. All this meant the world to me and really made my night.

It’s easy to feel isolated and limited when you’re fatigued and Twitter is the perfect antidote for those feelings.

Just over three months ago I was hospitalised for a few weeks, luckily I was allowed to use my BlackBerry and it was my lifeline. Through my BlackBerry I could receive emails/texts/phone calls/Facebook messages from my friends and family, who were all amazing and kept my spirits up. I also had access to my Twitter account.

I didn’t tweet much during my hospital stay but reading other peoples’ tweets (complete strangers who I wouldn’t recognise if I bumped into them in the outside world) kept me connected to what was going on in the world outside my hospital room. For example, I was in hospital the day the winner of the Labour leadership was announced. My white cell count was at zero and I had an infection with a raging temperature, I felt too ill to watch TV but I could easily refresh my Twitter feed and feel part of the excitement. Also, finding out Ed Miliband won really cheered me up.

I get angry when ignorant people dismiss Twitter or suggest that if you’re well enough to type out a few 140 character messages then you’re basically well enough work down a mine. Twitter enables people to feel part of a community and everyone deserves that, even if your body lets you down sometimes.

Jude xxx